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Home   Ashford   News   Article

Ashford couple's anger after 'offensive' religious video played on taxi journey after being picked up at Ashford International Station

13 December 2013
by Suz Elvey

The taxi journey started at Ashford International Station

The taxi journey started at Ashford International Station

A taxi driver has been accused of watching "offensive" religious videos while driving... and then locking passengers in his cab.

Business owner Andrew Devine said he was left angry and scared after the ordeal, which started when he and his wife Janice got into a taxi outside Ashford International Station.

The 52-year-old, from South Ashford, said he asked the taxi driver to turn off the video and told him to stop the car when the driver refused.

But after the vehicle stopped, the doors remained locked until Mr Devine handed over cash - despite the fact they had travelled just metres from the station entrance.

Mr Devine said: "We told him where we lived and as we were pulling away he tapped his mobile phone, which was in a dashboard holder, and a video started playing. It was a head and shoulders shot of a Muslim man wearing a white hat.

"There were speakers in the back of the car so we could hear what was being said and that was what annoyed me. If it had been just in the front for him to hear, it wouldn't have bothered me.

"The Muslim was talking about God, human beings and angels. Then an English voice started questioning him.

"At one point I thought it could have been a pro-Christian video, but I think it was pro-Muslim. However, I would have found it offensive whatever religion it was preaching as I'm an atheist. 

"The video had not been playing when we entered the cab, otherwise we wouldn't have got in."

Mr Devine claims he then asked the taxi driver to turn down the sound and the driver refused.

Business owner Andrew Devine was picked up in a minicab outside Ashford station

Business owner Andrew Devine was picked up in a minicab outside Ashford station

He asked the driver to stop and he pulled up near Watling Tyre Service, in Victoria Road, at about 7.30pm. But when the passengers tried to get out, they say the doors were locked.

He added: "I'm used to getting out of the cab and paying the driver through the window, which is what I tried to do but the doors were locked.

"He said I had to pay the £4 minimum fare, which I did and then he unlocked the doors.

"I would have found it offensive whatever religion it was preaching as I'm an atheist..." - business owner Andrew Devine

"I was angry that I was spoken to the way I was and that someone could behave like that, but the scary thing was the fact we were locked in the car.

"My concern is that if someone else was in that situation, someone more vulnerable, they may have had to put up with that for the whole journey.

"I've spoken to a few people about it, including other taxi drivers, and they all had the same reaction I had. I don't drive so I have been using taxis for a long time and nothing like this has ever happened before.

"I have a regular firm I always book with if I'm getting a cab from home, but at the taxi rank you just get in the next available vehicle. I think I will be sticking to the firms I trust from now on."

A minicab driver allegedly played a religious video in front of a passenger

A minicab driver allegedly played a religious video in front of a passenger

Mr Devine has written to Ashford Council about his experience.

All taxis, their drivers and the company operating them must be licensed by the council.

He said he was not concerned about the video distracting the driver as he believed he was listening to the words rather than watching the screen.

He believed the taxi driver was operating independently and was not linked to any of the town's cab firms.

Council spokesman Sinead Hanna said the authority could not comment until it received an official complaint from Mr Devine, at which point it would investigate if necessary.

Click here for more news from Ashford.

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